Raiders receiver wants more chances

Updated: November 9, 2003, 10:47 PM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jerry Rice wants to be a bigger part of the Oakland Raiders' offense, even if it's too late to salvage the season.

The 19-year NFL veteran is the team's leading receiver with 41 catches for 523 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone for an Oakland team that's 2-7 only nine games removed from its Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay. The Raiders are off to their worst start since beginning 1-6-1 in 1964.

"Warren Sapp's got me beat. Jerry Porter came out and he's got me beat now," Rice said, referring to players who have scored this season, including Porter's 2-yard TD catch for Oakland on Sunday.

Rice finished with four catches for 41 yards in Sunday's 27-24 overtime loss to the New York Jets on a day the Raiders mostly ran the ball to make things easier for third-stringer-turned-starting quarterback Rick Mirer.

The Raiders had 21 straight rushes before Mirer completed a 17-yard pass to Rice almost 19 minutes in.

"It's up to the coaches to make the calls and give me the opportunity," the 41-year-old Rice said. "I haven't had the opportunities this year. It's just unfortunate. I have a hard time dealing with it. Sometimes, it's not all about scoring touchdowns. It's about all the little things you do on the field."

Rice is really not that far off his pace from last season, when he caught 92 passes for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns, but the constant losing seems to be getting to him. This has been among the most frustrating seasons in his storied career.

Rice has said he didn't return for another season to be embarrassed, and what the Raiders have been going through has been a humbling experience.

"It just feels like the gods are not looking down on us right now," Rice said. "Sometimes, things are meant to happen. Hopefully the golf gods are going to start looking down on us. I'm thinking about golf right now.

"I think it hurts more when you come so close and still don't win a game. It's a little deeper."

What do the Raiders play for now?

"The thing you play for is pride," Rice said. "That's why you play this game."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press